LIT ERA R Y LIFE 215
stone and bone inscriptions, the study of foreign names in the history of the Mongol Dynasty* Others had as their hobbies the ancient non-Confucian philosophers, the Yiian dramas, the Book of Changes (Yiking}, Sung philosophy (lifistteh), history of Chinese painting, ancient coins, Chinese Turkestan, the Mongol dialects, etc. So much depended on the teachers with whom they came in contact and on the fashion of academic studies of the period. In the middle of the Manchu regime, when Chinese philologic scholarship had reached its summit, there were collected in the HuangcKing Chingchieh and Shu HuangcKing Chingchieh about four hundred works running to over a thousand volumes, consisting of scholarly treatises on extremely specialized topics, very similar in nature and spirit to the doctorate dissertations of modern universities, only with a maturer scholarship and involving much longer years of labour, one of which I know took the author thirty years.
IV. THE COLLEGE
But true scientists are as rare in China as they are in the West. On the other hand, we have as many political candidates as there are Ph.D.s in America, men who need a rank to earn their own bread and other people's respect. Perhaps the Chinese official candidates are a greater pest to society than the American Ph.D.s. Both of them pass an examination which means no more or less than that the candidate has done a certain amount of drudgery with a mediocre intelligence, both of them want the rank For purely commercial reasons, and both of them have received an education which totally unfits them for anything except the handling of books and the peddling of knowledge.
The Chinese Ph.D.s, however, had a distinctly official favour about them. There were among them real talents, who took these degrees for no earthly reason except the fun and ease of taking them, and who climbed very high, reaching the last stage of imperial examinations, becoming a chinshih or fuwlin* These went out as magistrates or became officials in the capital, The great majority of them sunk in the first or second grades,